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Taxi watchdog patrols top downtown hotels

2009. 11 June

( Nearly all high-end hotels downtown will have at least one of its security staff authorized to assist the taxi watchdog to immediately help save passengers from bad taxi service or illegal activity.

People staying at downtown hotels could now expect immediate help to deal with lousy cabbies as the taxi watchdog network connected to hotels was launched yesterday.

The authorized staff would start their work with the taxi watchdog in the next few days, the Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement Team said.

"We hope to create a direct channel especially for foreign visitors to reach the watchdog immediately for complaints and better protect them from fare fraud and other violations," taxi watchdog spokesman Wu Runyuan told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

Foreigners in Shanghai are frequent victims of taxi scams and bad service, getting overcharged, given fake invoices, refused service or getting dumped in the wrong location.

Staff will be trained in 118 high-end hotels downtown, including nearly all four- and five-star hotels downtown and some three-star hotels designated to cater for the 2010 World Expo visitors.

About 200 security staff from these hotels have been trained to act for the taxi watchdog to help crack down on bad service.

"The security workers have all been trained in collecting evidence, recognizing the usual tricks by lousy cabbies and how to instantly report to the watchdog to help passengers," Wu explained.

Each hotel will have one or two taxi watchdog assistants who will wear a lanyard to identify them.

Surveillance cameras have also been installed at all these hotels at positions to help identify cabs picking up or dropping off passengers.

"The assistants will report to the hotel's nearest taxi watchdog team to immediately track down a taxi suspected of bad service if it has already left," Wu said.

"We hope this service could help passengers, especially foreigners, reach us more quickly and easily and better protect them."

Shanghai Daily visited seven downtown hotels yesterday and found some hotels have readily started similar measures to protect taxi passengers. "We already made a routine practice that the staff should record plate number of each cab that stops by our hotel and the time in case passengers forget items or experience bad taxi services," Michael Jin, security manager with The Portman Ritz Carlton, told Shanghai Daily.

Wang Ji, lobby manager with the Garden Hotel Shanghai, said common complaints from foreign taxi passengers are getting overcharges and receiving fake invoices.

He agreed that a direct communication channel to the taxi watchdog and the trained assistants could help.